Westminster Farmers’ Market Report from Maple Heights Farm
This Friday we are celebrating the 1 year anniversary of the opening of the Farmers’ Market with a Birthday Celebration! We are lucky enough to have some Irish Step Dancers performing at 5:00 and Sue Nickerson and her husband Steve will be on fiddle and guitar! Stop by for a piece of Birthday Cake and enjoy the festivities!
We now have 71 votes for Favorite Farmers’ Market on Local Harvest. I think that is pretty impressive so far. We are about 50 votes away from getting onto the top 100 list. Now, if you have been to our farmers’ market, I think you will agree it is top notch and deserves your vote. Just the top 100 is all I’m asking. So please vote at www.localHarvest.org. It takes me between 2 and 4 hours to write this report each week (admittedly not my specialty). It will take you about 2 minutes to vote. Please vote!
Did you see the Sentinel and Enterprise on Sunday! We had a wonderful article written about our market – taking up almost the entire front page. We have a laminated copy on our information table so stop by to read it. Thanks to Emily Devlin for writing this terrific article. And not only that, Keith Harding spent last Friday at our market with his TV crew. He spent the afternoon taping on-location for “Your Voice”. We are looking forward to our first T.V. show. I’ll let you know when it is ready for air.
In the spirit of local eating, another reason to eat local: Fresh, healthy food. Local food is not genetically bread for mass production; it is typically bread for nutrition, flavor and quality. At your big box store, you get what you get. But at the farmers’ market, that is not good enough. If you don’t like our meat or cheese or tomatoes or potatoes, you don’t come back to buy more. Every vendor you see wants your repeat business and that means s/he wants you to be a happy customer. Happy customers do not line up to buy those pink tomato-ish things that you eat from the super market. And they are not good enough for vendors who don’t even bother trying to sell them to you. If you buy sausage from your grocery store and half of it drains away while you cook, you will buy more if you have no other choice, but at the farmers’ market you probably won’t be back! So our sausage is not loaded with fat that you are going to throw away! About 4 years ago I set out on a trip with my family, very early in the morning. We stopped at the local fast food restaurant and purchased egg sandwiches. The egg was so pale and tasteless it made me wonder what they did with the yolks. An egg from the farmers’ market is practically orange and is loaded with more nutrients and healthy fats because the hens are out in the sunlight eating bugs and grass. That is the way an egg is supposed to be. And according to Mother Earth News, free range eggs may have 4 to 6 times the amount of vitamin D when compared to supermarket eggs! And you thought you could only get vitamin D from the sun??
And in the spirit of Local Thanksgiving, now is the best time to blanch a few extra ears of corn, strip them from the cob and put them in your freezer. If you did not receive the farmers’ market report that contained directions, email me and I’ll send it along. My beans are in the freezer, ready for our feast. You will find all the squash and cranberries that you need later in the season.
This week I have some tips for you for shopping in the market. These tips are inspired, if not mostly plagiarized from Local Flavors: Cooking and Eating from America’s Farmers’ Markets by Deborah Madison.
1. Plan to spend time at the market. Start by walking around to see what’s there before you start to shop, especially if you’re new to the market.
2. If you don’t recognize what you are looking at, ask. The farmers’ market can and should be an educational experience.
3. Bring cash.
4. Ask about how the food is raised. Vendors will be more than happy that you are taking an interest in the food and will be very enthusiastic about their growing practices.
5. Try samples if they are available. Vegetables and other products can be highly variable within the market and growers want you to try what they have to offer. This does not obligate you to buy.
6. If you will have a long trip home, take a cooler.
7. Take your kids along and let them buy a few healthy items. They may even become more open to new tastes this way. And, unlike at the supermarket, kids always seem to have fun at our market.
8. Enjoy the atmosphere. Take time to sit down and enjoy a glass of iced tea or complimentary ice water (in the blue cooler at the information table in the center).
I have a fun suggestion for you that will take you through many of the booths at the market. If I have time, I will do this myself, too. Based upon a recipe for roasted potatoes, and based upon the fact that our market has many different kinds of potatoes from several different vendors… Stop by all the vegetable booths and get a few of each type of potato. Everything from red skinned to Yukon gold to some of the more exotic blue potatoes. Take them home and very carefully scrub them – very carefully because the skin will come off if you scrub too hard. Place them in a baking dish with an onion (from the farmers’ market). Add a bit of fresh rosemary, salt and pepper and douse in good olive oil. Stir it up and roast it in the oven until done. These are delicious served with just about any meal (and will even act as a French fry if you have the need). And you will have the opportunity to sample all those great new potatoes in the market! Potato is a highly nutritious food: fat-free, cholesterol-free and sodium free. It is an excellent source of Vitamin C and provides important B Vitamins plus minerals like potassium, copper, magnesium and iron. Potatoes are also one of the best sources of complex carbohydrates. And one medium size potato contains only 100 calories.
Useful items that vendors can use at the market: Berry cartons and Canning jars and coffee grounds. If you are buying items in canning jars, and you do not need them, please consider returning them to vendors. If you find it easier, you can place them in the recycle bins and we will get them to where they need to be…
This week at Maple Heights Farm we will have plenty of pork and beef and the usual breads along with more of our focaccia – which was a big seller last week. If you have any questions about any vegetables that you find in the market, stop by our booth and look through our Local Flavors cookbook (recommended by Barbara Kingsolver) and also our vegetable bible. Actually, both these books are from the library and will be overdue by Friday, but I’ll hold onto them just through the Farmers’ Market in case you want to see them. In addition, I will try to have some rosemary at my booth. I lost my plant last week and hope to have it back by Friday – else I will try very hard to procure another from M.L.’s booth. For those of you looking for great potato varieties to roast, stop by and break off a small sprig of rosemary for your recipe. You are going to need it as the dry stuff is not allowed with such fantastic potatoes!
Orders are now open on Massachusetts Local Food at www.massfoodcoop.org. You may want to spend a few minutes browsing through the almost 400 products listed. You have to eat this winter and you are going to need to find your food somewhere...
Have a good week and see you at the market.
Westminster Farmers’ Market: Fridays 3:00 until 7:00 until October 30th.
Ashburnham Farmers’ Market: Mondays 3:00 until 6:00
Princeton Farmers’ Market: Thursdays 3:00 until 6:00
Winchendon Farmers’ Market: Thursdays 4:00 until 7:00.